Tuna brands forced to come clean

Greenpeace lifts the lid on the unsustainable practices of the canned tuna industry.

Pressure from angry consumers and activists has resulted in major changes to the tuna trade.

- Advertisement -

For the first time ever Australians are able to buy sustainable tuna according to findings released this week in the updated Greenpeace Canned Tuna Guide.

Greenpeace first launched the guide four months ago, lifting the lid on the unsustainable and inhumane practices of the canned tuna industry – Australia’s highest selling food item.

Over 300,000 turtles are killed each year as bycatch from longline fishing. “I was horrified to discover that my favourite tuna brand was wiping out tuna, turtles and sharks,” said Brad Malyon, Greenpeace ambassador Bondi Rescue lifeguard.

In the months following, pressure from angry consumers and activists has resulted in major changes to the tuna trade.

“Since then thousands of people have written outraged emails demanding tuna companies behind these brands clean up their act, and they’ve listened,” said Greenpeace oceans campaigner Genevieve Quirk.

Supermarket brands such as Aldi and IGA have begun labelling their cans to indicate to consumers what particular species of tuna is inside and where it was caught.

“In the first ranking, no brand scored over 25%, so some of them have significantly improved,” said Elsa Evers of Greenpeace.

Fish 4 Ever, a new brand sold at IGA supermarkets and independent stores, is the only brand to achieve a ‘Good’ rating (above 70 per cent), due to its use of sustainable pole and line caught Skipjack tuna.

“We fully support Greenpeace’s work in this area and are extremely excited to have our Fish 4 Ever Skipjack tuna rated as Australia’s most sustainable tinned tuna,” said Sandy Abram, co-founder of First Ray and distributor of Fish 4 Ever.

Despite this positive step forward, all other 11 Australian tuna brands in the guide still use fishing methods that kill turtles and sharks.

While the majority of tuna brands have improved the labelling of their cans, major players John West and Sirena continue to keep details of how their tuna is caught a secret.

“We’ve seen that consumer pressure can make a big impact, so we need to re-double our efforts and demand that tuna brands stop using destructive FAD [fish aggregating device] -caught tuna”, Ms Quirk said.

An international canned tuna ranking system is used to rate the tuna, which takes into account whether or not the tuna is fished legally, using methods that result in a lot of bycatch, and if cans are labelled correctly.

The worst performing brand was ‘Fabulous’ brand tuna, which received a sustainability score of just 2 per cent. This was joined by 3 other brands – Safcol, Sole Mare and Franklins No Frills – with ratings of less than 10 per cent.